Now today we come to one of my favourite rides, a ride that was the final attraction Uncle Walt was involved in.
Yes that’s right, it’s time for some Pirates of the Caribbean fun
This ride has been replicated in 3 other Disney Parks ,The Magical Kingdom in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, but we will begin with the original in Disneyland in Anaheim.
Originally conceived as a walk through wax museum, Pirates of the Caribbean opened in California on 16th March 1967,a mere 3 months after Walt died, but by this point had changed to water based dark ride and starring some of Disney’s most progressive animatronics.
Set in the the 1800s, the ride was built in the Old Orleans area of the park, inspired by the pirate, Jean Lafitte, who fought alongside the U.S. Army in the Battle of New Orleans in 1812.
The ride tells the story of a band of pirates and their travels, both on land and sea. With (drinking) adventures in the town of Tortuga, cannon fights in a caribbean port to calm sails through the bayous of New Orleans and battles with skeleton crews for lost treasures, the attraction told the story of every little boy’s pirate dreams.
Also inside the ride itself, was a caribbean themed restaurant, The Blue Bayou, that is still considered one of the best restaurants on property, and above the attraction, what was originally planned to be a Disney family private apartment (these plans obviously changed after Walt’s passing) and became a art inspired museum/gallery. This has since become an apartment again, now know as Disneyland Dream Suite.
When Walt conceived the plans for the Magic Kingdom, he decided,that due to where the park was, that Pirates wouldn’t be built, as pirates were still around in the area.
After Walt died, plans continued to go ahead for Walt Disney World, without Pirates of the Caribbean and would open without one of the most popular rides from California.
Once the park had opened in 1971 and people realised it wasn’t there, guests began to demand that the ride was added
So in 1973 their wishes were granted, with a slightly altered version opening December 15th
With a very different show building, based on Fort San Felipe del Morro,this wasn’t the only change.
Now the Blue Bayou was gone and no replacement restaurant inside the attraction , one of the two drops in the California version was removed and the ride itself coming in as a far shorter experience, and the scene of pirates finding the lost treasure no longer part of the attraction.
It would be another 10 years before another version of the fan favourite attraction would come along again
In April 1983, Tokyo Disneyland would open with Pirates being on the list of available attractions on that opening day
Again this version slightly amended again, making the ride slightly longer again (still not the ride length as the original) and the Blue Bayou returned to the inside of the ride.
And the final new incarnation came in April 1992, on another new continent,this time for the opening of Euro Disney in Paris. Now housed in a battle worn fortress, this one aimed more towards the original in California, taking the ride length back to double figures in minutes, returning the second drop back into the attraction and keeping most scenes from Disneyland in tact.
Also there would be a new restaurant added to the ride, now renamed to the Blue Lagoon.
Due to the different natures of all the parks, the rides across the various resorts are based in different lands, Disneyland in Old Orleans and the other three in Adventureland.
All versions have gone through refurbishments, though major ones being new character additions, and these are characters that not just ones Disney fans will know but film buffs also.
After the release of the first film based on this attraction,The Curse of the Black Pearl, it was decided the characters of Captain Jack Sparrow (portrayed by Johnny Depp) and Captain Hector Barbossa (played by Geoffrey Rush) would be added to the ride in Anaheim,Orlando and Tokyo, replacing some of the older animatronics,before the release of the second film in the series, Dead Man’s Chest, was released.
A second change was made before the third of the films, At World’s End, gave Disney another box office hit, a mist projection was added to the beginning of the ride, portraying the character of Davy Jones (who was created digitally via the acting of Bill Nighy).
This would then be amended to coincide with the release of the forth and currently last movie based on the attraction, On Stranger Tides, by placing the character of Blackbeard(brought to life by Ian McShane) on the mist projection.
They now currently alternate between which image you see.
Currently Paris have not added any of the movie amendments and don’t seem to have any plans to do so in the future.
So there you have it, a bit of history of an attraction that has a huge place in current popular culture, that wasn’t mainly down to the ride, but a set of films that no one knew would become so ingrained in modern Hollywood that in some ways has raised Walt Disney Studios back to the top again.
And just remember
Dead Men Tell No Tales!!!!!